Medline promotes use of BioMask facemask to protect against flu
MUNDELEIN, Ill. — Following last week’s news that the influenza season has gotten off to an early start, Medline issued a release recommending the company’s BioMask facemask as adequate protection against contracting the flu.
BioMask is a Food and Drug Administration-cleared antiviral medical facemask that has been found to inactivate flu viruses — including the H3N2, this year’s dominant strain — as well as other laboratory-tested flu viruses, the company reported. “BioMask should be one of the most important items in any home’s medicine cabinet or traveling first-aid kit right alongside hand antiseptics, adhesive bandages, alcohol pads, tape and exam gloves,” stated Lorri Downs VP clinical services, infection prevention and patient safety for Medline. “BioMask can help protect patients who are at home and especially at-risk groups, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immunities, as well as healthcare workers.”
According to the company, BioMask inactivates 99.99% of the tested flu viruses on five minutes contact.
BioMask is sold under Medline’s Curad brand name.
CDC: Influenza-like illness rates dips below national baseline
ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported that the national incidence of influenza-like illness dropped below the national baseline of 2.2% to 1.9% and is lower than reported during the previous week. "This fluctuation may be attributed in part to a reduced number of routine health visits during the Thanksgiving holidays, as has been observed in previous seasons," the agency speculated.
Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1, 417 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported (a rate of 1.5 per 100,000 population). Among all hospitalizations, 76.5% were associated with influenza A and 21.6% with influenza B. Among hospitalizations with influenza A subtype information, 96.6% were attributed to H3 and 3.4% to 2009 H1N1.
The most commonly reported underlying medical conditions among hospitalized adults were metabolic conditions, cardiovascular disease, obesity and chronic lung disease (excluding asthma). Among 11 hospitalized women of childbearing age (15-44 years), one was pregnant. The most commonly reported underlying medical conditions in hospitalized children were asthma, cardiovascular disease, neurologic disorders and obesity. More than 40% of hospitalized children had no identified underlying medical conditions. Additional FluSurv-NET data can be found here.
For the week ended Dec. 1, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas all reported high levels of ILI activity. Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee reported moderate levels of ILI activity.
However, according to geographic spread of influenza (which does not account for the severity of influenza activity) CDC reported widespread activity in eight states: Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
When national ILI rates eclipsed 2.2% last week, it marked the earliest in the season that had happened for many years, excepting the year H1N1 was prevalent. The 2007/2008 flu season was the last moderately severe season, and that season didn’t cross the 2.2% threshold until late December 2007/early January 2008.
As part of CDC’s FluView this season, the agency is releasing enhanced web-based interactive applications that can provide dynamic visuals of the influenza data collected and analyzed by CDC. To access these tools visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluviewinteractive.htm.
Study: Inadequate vitamin B12 in seniors could be linked to cognitive decline
BOSTON — Being mildly vitamin B-12 deficient could be an indication that some older adults are at a greater risk for accelerated cognitive decline, according to an observational study from researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University released Wednesday.
Lead researcher Martha Savaria Morris of the Nutrition Epidemiology Program at the HNRCA examined data from 549 men and women enrolled in a cohort of the Framingham Heart Study, focusing on scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination, a short list of questions and tasks commonly used to screen for dementia. The subjects were divided into five groups, based on their vitamin B-12 blood levels.
Being in the two lowest groups was associated with significantly accelerated cognitive decline, based on an analysis of test scores from five MMSE tests given over a period of eight years.
“Men and women in the second lowest group did not fare any better in terms of cognitive decline than those with the worst vitamin B-12 blood levels. Over time, their MMSE scores declined just as rapidly,” Morris said. “Rapid neuropsychiatric decline is a well-known consequence of severe vitamin B-12 deficiency, but our findings suggest that adverse cognitive effects of low vitamin B-12 status may affect a much larger proportion of seniors than previously thought.”
“While we emphasize our study does not show causation, our associations raise the concern that some cognitive decline may be the result of inadequate vitamin B-12 in older adults, for whom maintaining normal blood levels can be a challenge,” stated Paul Jacques, the study’s senior author and director of the Nutrition Epidemiology Program.